Suva (Fiji), 29 July 2022 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a training course on cryptocurrencies and on darknet investigation of cases involving pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies to traffic synthetic drugs and opioids in Fiji.
According to the 2020 UNODC Darknet Threat Assessment Report, drugs are one of the most available illicit products on the darknet, making up 68 % of the total marketplace. Darknet marketplaces have become attractive and appealing platforms for drug trafficking. On those platforms, both sellers and buyers of illicit drugs can communicate anonymously, with low chances of detection and prosecution. Different types of cryptocurrencies can be used for pseudo-anonymous payments.
“The United States Government knows that drug traffickers use virtual currencies because they believe that such transactions are anonymous, making detection by the authorities more difficult. Online marketplaces are also increasingly used for drug trafficking, due to the speed and convenience they offer. Many of these marketplaces are located on the dark web, where buyers and sellers can connect in secrecy”, noted Ms. Rebecca Owen, Acting Deputy-Chief of Mission, U.S Embassy in Fiji.
It was reported that drug dealing, and consumption have significantly increased in Fiji, as it is located on an international drug trafficking route. In 2021, the Fijian authorities warned the public that lethal illicit drugs are being produced across the country. Digitalization driven by COVID-19 disruptions is also another factor that motivates drug traffickers to operate more widely and conveniently online.
“There has been an increase in the number of online marketplaces used to traffic synthetic drugs and opioids, creating an anonymous environment where purchases are made using pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrencies. Shipments are mixed in with the billions of parcels sent around the world every year. Based on practical scenarios and a variety of desktop simulations, the training helped participants understanding the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, thus ensuring that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out their roles in cryptocurrency and darknet investigation”, said Mr. Himal Ojha, UNODC Cybercrime Programme Officer.
As a response to this critical threat, specialists from UNODC designed and delivered a five-day training on cryptocurrencies and darknet investigations for Fijian drug investigators, cybercrime investigators and prosecutors. The training aimed to build and share specialized knowledge and skills in investigating clearweb, darkweb tracing cryptocurrencies transactions, detecting criminal activities, identifying and requesting electronic evidence, and seizing assets and proceeds stored in cryptocurrency wallets. In this regard, UNODC encourages cross-border cooperation to better deploy both enforcement and prosecution methods.
“After this training, all participants should be up to date, familiarized with a range of various technologies, and most importantly, be able to develop and understand the potential and mechanisms behind cryptocurrencies that can facilitate earlier detection. This should help making cryptocurrencies and darknet investigations more effective”, said Ms. Marie-Laure Pegie Cauchois, Officer-in-Charge, UNODC Programme Office in Fiji.
The training was funded by the Government of the United States of America. UNODC will offer additional courses throughout the Pacific, and beyond, to assist the national authorities in developing long-term capacity for effective investigation and prosecution of cybercrime and cryptocurrency-related cases.
For more information:
Click here to learn more about Global Programme on cybercrime.
Click here to learn more about Opioids Strategy.
Click here to download the Darknet Report.